Estate Planning

The goal of estate planning is to maximize the benefits of family wealth for the intended beneficiaries by minimizing estate taxation and protecting assets from being lost through spendthrift heirs or creditor claims.

There are many myths about estate planning. Many people believe that estate planning is only for the rich and deals with death. In reality, estate planning has many benefits that apply to people with limited assets, and has more to do with the living than with death.

In general, the benefits of estate planning relate to either tax or non-tax issues. Tax benefits include the reduction of estate and income taxes through a variety of planning techniques, such as gifting through trusts and organizing assets in tax-favored entities. The objective is to preserve family wealth for as long as possible.

For most people, estate planning offers many non-tax benefits, which include saving the costs and hassle by avoiding probate and other legal procedures if all property ownership and succession plans are in place. It also serves to protect the surviving spouse and children by making sure that they are provided for when a death occurs.

A basic estate plan from Plenaris Advisory includes the following documents:

A pour-over will;
A revocable living trust;
Certification of trust;
Assignment of property to revocable trust; 
Community property agreement (for couples);
Durable power of attorney for finance;
Advance health care directive; 
HIPAA release and authorization form;
Trust transfer deed for the primary residence; 
Preliminary change of ownership report.

For a family with special needs children, the estate plan may include a Special Needs Trust. For families with business assets or taxable estate, a complete estate plan requires more extensive planning to deal with business succession/continuation and various tax issues. For individuals in high risk professions, such as physicians, as well as those with extensive assets, estate planning may involve asset protection techniques that would protect them from creditors and risks of lawsuits, and a revocable living trust would not be sufficient for asset protection purposes.

In addition to preparing all the plan documents, PA will assist clients in implementing their plan by funding the revocable trust and retitling financial documents to ensure that the provisions in the plan are being followed.

For a list of do's and don't's of estate planning, click here.,

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